Last September, an Australasian harrier was brought into our on-site vet hospital for treatment, from our colleagues at Great South Vets.
Unfortunately this wild patient wasn’t able to fly well so our vet team carried out tests to determine what was causing it. This included radiographs, endoscopy, blood tests, and eye exams by a specialist. The results of these tests confirmed that she was visually impaired in her right eye, and had high levels of lead in her blood. Lead poisoning is not uncommon in birds of prey as they can ingest the residual shot that can be left inside any killed animal, which can be fatal for them.
This meant that the harrier was un-releaseable, as to be able to survive in the wild raptors need perfect vision and depth perception to hunt for their dinner. Thankfully our Animal Experiences team have taken the harrier under their wing, allowing her to have a safe home at the zoo and be an important advocacy bird for her wild cousins.
After months of work to slowly earn her trust, animal trainer Jez has started taking her around the zoo and gradually getting her comfortable with new spaces and people. Eventually it’s our hope that she will join our free flight birds at Flight School. Stay tuned for updates!